Mon, Oct 26, 2015 - Page 6 News List

School stabbings highlight racial tensions in Sweden

AP, TROLLHATTAN, Sweden

Saman Nazar, a cousin of a youth recreation leader stabbed to death by a masked assailant in a school attack that left two dead and two wounded, mourns at a memorial outside Kronan School in Trollhattan, Sweden, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

The southern industrial city of Trollhattan has become a focal point for underlying racial tensions in Sweden, a nation that has displayed generous attitudes toward refugees.

A 21-year-old local man rampaged through a school in the city on Thursday last week, stabbing two people to death and seriously wounding two others before being fatally shot by police. Authorities called it a racist hate crime, saying he methodically selected dark-skinned victims at Trollhattan’s Kronan School, where most students are foreign-born.

The masked attacker, who killed a teacher and a student, has not been named by police.

Many in the nation of 10 million were horrified by the violence, but not surprised at its eruption, saying the surge of refugees into Europe has increased anti-immigrant attitudes. Swedish officials estimate about 190,000 asylum seekers will arrive this year, second only to Germany in Western Europe.

A British teacher at the Montessori school opposite Kronan, Jo-Anne Frampton, said the attack had been “just a matter of time.”

Frampton, who has lived in Trollhattan for 18 years, said her initial reaction was shock, and then her school was inundated by calls from worried parents.

“We were all worried and afraid, but the attack isn’t really surprising. There’s a lot of racial tension here, and it’s been growing since more and more migrants have been arriving,” she told reporters on Saturday.

As relatives and friends of one of the stabbing victims returned to the school to pay their respects, anti-racist campaigners on Saturday gathered in the city to discuss racial issues.

“We get the feeling that these dark forces are back, but the difference now is that they have attacked children at a school,” local activist Jorge Pereira said.

Sweden over the past seven months has seen a spate of at least 20 arson attacks on asylum centers or buildings being renovated to house refugees. Early on Saturday, another blaze — considered by investigators again to be arson — destroyed a house intended for refugees in Eskiltuna, near Stockholm.

“Once again, we have experienced a hate crime... Our country is burning. Asylum dwellings are in flames,” Svenska Dagbladet, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, said in an editorial. “The hatred against immigrants spreads like wildfire.”

Muslim Organization of Trollhattan chairman Sabri al-Harbiti condemned the fires, calling them “attempted murder.”

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